Patrick Doyle, Senior Staff Writer, San Diego State University Daily Aztec
It often feels like everyone except us has emerged from this pandemic stronger.
Reflecting upon a year of lockdowns resulting in a plethora of free time, it can feel disheartening for those who did not harness the year to improve themselves in some meaningful way.
From all the new exercise plans people were adding to their daily routines to the ambitious extracurricular projects people decided to work on, it felt like a lot of people found their groove in quarantine. People were expressing their creative side and were discovering new things about themselves for the better.
However, this was not the case for everyone.
For every household that started following a new diet, there were others who put on weight. For every person who picked up a new hobby, there were more who lost interest in their favorite activities.
The pandemic took its toll on everyone, so to have had an unproductive year is completely fine, and you are not alone.
In late June 2020, a Centers for Disease Control survey found that 41% of respondents were experiencing mental health challenges related to the pandemic, and 11% seriously considered suicide. Of those aged 18-24, over 25% reported seriously thinking about suicide. Clearly, the mental health crisis was heightened during this pandemic, and millions of people around the world – especially young adults – suffered from severe anxiety and depression.
Given this, you have not been alone in your struggles this past year and should not be ashamed of focusing on yourself for a while. This was a lot to go through for anyone, but it was more difficult for some than others.
People online who seemed to have things put together through quarantine are only representative of their individual experiences during the pandemic. Yours may be completely different and that is completely valid. Some people were able to motivate themselves more than others, but not being as productive as you intended does not make you a lesser person.
This pandemic has been an anomaly in everyone’s lives in many ways, and it’s important to remember that. Your unproductive year does not define you, nor does it set you back from your future years of growth.
Even if you do not experience a renewed sense of purpose as the severity of the pandemic winds down, there are still opportunities for you to find yourself and rediscover your ambitions. But most importantly, do not feel guilty for having taken a year to focus on your own wellbeing. Even if you don’t have tangible proof of personal growth, just making it through the chaos caused you to emerge stronger than you realize.
If you or someone you know is experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression, or is struggling with substance use, find tips and resources to help cope. Mask your face, not your feelings.